Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When All of the Feelings Come...


As of today it has been 72 days since I got back from traveling around the world. In those seventy two days, I have decided to move back to California, been to New York and packed up half of my life, driven across the entire country, helped my mom through an intense surgery, reconnected with friends I haven't seen in ten years, picked up a couple of part time jobs, settled into my father's spare bedroom with my husband from New Jersey and this past weekend I cut bangs, the most drastic thing I have done to my hair since chopping it all off five years ago. When I do transitions, I go big. Or at least that is what it looks like. But the truth is, I can't stand to sit still.

And sitting still really equates to something more like experiencing uncertainty. Since getting back I have been busting my hump to try and find a job/career. And when I'm not yielding results there, I take it upon myself to manage Mike's job search. If you ever want to give yourself an undying resentment, try to control someone's else's job search. You will only meet frustration, you will only express "nag," and you will guarantee only one mutually fostered feeling - unhappiness.

Now, I know in my heart that when my controlling thing crops up that this is my shit. That my motives are self-seeking. That my persistence in trying to manage Mike's job search actually has nothing to do with Mike and everything to do with my fears and frustrations with my own job search. And beyond the fears and frustrations is a sadness that our great big adventure around the world is over. There is a kind of grief underneath it all. Like with any passage of time, that big great dream of ours was experienced and now it is settling into our memories. We are no longer haggling for water in India or freezing our butts off in Tibet or drinking cappuccinos overlooking the Amalfi Coast. We are now here, in it - marriage, unemployment, transition. We have our feet in two worlds but don't belong to either. In 24 hours we found ourselves bar hopping in Santa Barbara with my brother and his friends and then bringing a quiche to a Sunday brunch and meeting our friends' adorable newborn. We are childless and without careers. But we are married and we have been around the entire world. A friend who spent several years abroad and has done a lot of travel reached out to me to sort of check in with what we might really be experiencing. He mentioned coming home from his travels with a heaviness, like his heart knew too much.

I do feel that heaviness also tempered with overwhelming gratitude. But trying to put my feet down and take a step in one direction has been tougher than I imagined. I find myself taking one step in lots of directions, but the other foot is having trouble following. So, instead, I focus on Mike.

I found myself in this vicious cycle of not being able to stop myself when my controlling began, to getting angry and bossy, followed by sadness, and then apologizing because I knew I was out of line. Nag, fight, apologize, repeat. It wasn't until I put the focus back on myself, forced myself to breathe, and let the feelings I have been keeping at bay all come and wash over in the thing I hate to do most - cry. But after crumpling into a puddle and letting out the ugly cries I could admit to myself that these past two months have been really fucking hard. They have been great and full of wonderful change and beautiful visits with friends and family. But they have been really hard, too. And with that acknowledgment I could give myself a little bit of a break. I have everything I need right now, and if I keep taking small steps, the rest will work out exactly how it is supposed to.


Margot Shirley said...

I get what you're saying. Norm and I are in transition as well, not after traveling the world but dealing with his cancer diagnosis and treatment. The only way I know to handle things is to MANAGE his cancer. There are days when I do it brilliantly. There are days when I'm glad I haven't killed him. There are days when doctors and nurses shake their heads and avert their eyes. But it's all I know to do and it keeps me from dealing with some scary "what-ifs".

I loved reading about your travels as much as I enjoy reading about your transitions.

Carmen said...

glad you were able to get some of that out in a cry. glad you quoted me as someone who helped you learn about crying (i am sort of an expert cryer)
love you and miss you and am so excited for this next chapter in your life. it will be great